~ LOSS & EQUILIBRIUM ~

Posted: July 8, 2017 in "big picture" questions, FAMILY, Family stories, FATHER, Grandfathers, grief, loss, love, mortality, Truth
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A reality bloomed before us yesterday…one I didn’t want to see…that shocked me to my very core. My father is mortal. The superhero of our family – our fearless leader – who has never spent a day in hospital, apart from when he got bowled over by a truck, is lying in a hospital bed at death’s door.

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As dad said when he was still lucid, ‘I never get sick. I’ve never had anything wrong with me.’ He couldn’t understand why people started to fuss over him in his town a few weeks ago. A few worried reports filtered in, that dad’s colour wasn’t right; he was ‘looking blue.’

When I rang to check on him, Dad said he’d had flu for about four weeks. I said he must see a doctor in the morning. He promised he would.

My sister rang the next morning to check on him. She found dad was panting and fighting for breath. He still refused to see a doctor. Nevertheless an ambulance and friends in the community raced to side. My father is so fiercely independent (as the nurses keep telling us, also) that he fought being taken away by the ambulance. He didn’t want to go, and had to be persuaded in no uncertain terms.

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My father was transferred to Waikato Hospital HDU where he could be put on oxygen and have his levels monitored. The doctors said he had pneumonia in both lungs which accounted for his difficulty breathing.

In talking to him, dad admitted he’d “been a bit wobbly” for a few weeks when getting his firewood. He said he “had been struggling a little.” That’s understated dad-language for ‘I’m desperately ill and have been struggling a lot.’ No wonder the other people in his town were concerned.

I travelled to Waikato Hospital yesterday, along with my eldest son, and we were in for a shock. I saw dad’s mortality written across his face, and for the first time I faced the fact we could lose him.

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Holding dad’s hand, I stretched one of Ma’s crocheted blankets across his lap. He was counting erratic sequences of numbers in his half-sleep. His normally brown eyes, when he opened them, looked murky blue.

My superman had landed. I could have wept a thousand tears. But I had to hold it together for my son and my niece. I’m sure my father doesn’t want to see us grieving before he’s even gone, either.

Unfortunately, because it went on so long, dad let himself get very sick, and at this point, he is still no better.

Bless him, we were told he is a “flight risk” even so. He keeps trying to leave the hospital to go home. While we were there, if he wasn’t sleeping, then every few minutes he’d check his watch and say, “It’s time to go.” He was feeling anxious because he hadn’t laid the fire and ‘needed to get home to collect the wood.’ Yet, being so wobbly, he can’t go anywhere without a walking frame and someone holding him.

It was hard to leave dad at the hospital. I’ll take my younger boys to see him tomorrow.

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The call has gone out to the family. The time has come to gather from various points on the earth. We just need to focus on supporting dad through this and surrounding him with love. So that’s where our energy goes at this time, being there with him, no matter what.

We’re still praying he can recover and return to his beloved hometown. But, as one of my young nephews so sagely said, ‘Grandpa will never be able to go back to the way things were before.’ As a family, we have turned a corner. It’s just that none of us know which corner we’ve taken.

How do I approach the decline of this great man? Step by step. Moment by moment. There is no other way to do it than to let one’s heart be broken, petal by petal. That’s what it is to love, to surrender to the process of life. Yet, in all its suffering there is still sweetness and divinity. On the drive home from Waikato, the setting sun rimmed a burst of clouds with gold and sent out long apricot-yellow “fingers of God” into the deep blue sky. The scene was overwhelming in its pure magnificence. I looked with joy and I wept with tears of grief for my father.

How do we approach all of life with the same equilibrium? That’s something I’m currently pondering on…your thoughts are welcome!

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Talk to you later…

Keep Writing!

Yvette K. Carol

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‘The poet’s, the writer’s, duty is to write about these things. It is his privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart.’ ~ E.B.White

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Comments
  1. lynnkelleyauthor says:

    Oh my, dear Yvette, so beautifully written but heart wrenching. My heart is bleeding for you. My own parents are at a cross road and major changes are on the horizon because of Dad’s Alzheimer’s and the toll it’s taking on Mom. So heartbreaking to watch our parents decline. Sending hugs and prayers your way.

    Liked by 1 person

    • yvettecarol says:

      Hi darling Lynnie,
      yes, it is a humbling and levelling experience to walk this journey with our parents towards the ether. You go through that role-reversal thing you always hear about…
      The fact is, whether dad recovers enough to go home or not, a bell has started tolling. It’s the simple truth. And, it’s just so sad.

      Thank you for the hugs! 🙂

      I didn’t know your dad had Alzheimer’s. Your poor mum. It’s hardest on the caregivers. That must be such a worry for you. Hugs and prayers coming to you, too. xx

      Like

  2. That’s quite a shock for you all. I hope it’s not too late for a full recovery. He hasn’t given anyone any warning. Praying for you all x

    Liked by 1 person

    • yvettecarol says:

      Thanks, Catherine! Yes, it’s been like night and day, the change. We couldn’t believe how quickly he slipped downhill. This morning we were heartened when he made improvement, however he slid back to having difficulty again so it’s bit of a rollercoaster at present.

      Like

  3. Katrien says:

    Dearest Yvette. My heart goes out to you. Your story made me pause and appreciate my lovely parents at the other end of the world. They are approaching the end of the road, so I picked up the phone and told them I love them. I hope your dad recovers soon. Sending you lots of love and strength in this tough time. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • yvettecarol says:

      Hello my lovely friend, what a nice surprise to see you here. Thank you for reading and commenting, Katrien. I’m so glad this post made you reach out to your parents like that. Wonderful! Dad would be happy about that.
      It’s still touch and go at present with his health and the family is on rotating duty to keep a bedside vigil. We don’t want him to pass away alone. I came home from my first stint on bedside duty and the first thing I wanted to do was write about it. A blog is a very therapeutic way of sharing the journey of life.

      Like

  4. Jenny Hansen says:

    I’m so sorry you’re going through this, Yvette. It is heartbreaking to watch our parents slip away from us. I agree that company is the best thing you can do. Bring people in to be with him. Sit and talk to each other in the room. Play music. Read stories. Give him your joy while he is so ill, and try to take some for yourself while you are at it. Hugs to you, my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    • yvettecarol says:

      It’s so hard to watch, isn’t it, Jenny. I find that I’m immediately drawn to think of all dad has done for us in his lifetime, he was always selflessly there whenever or whatever was needed. Now it’s our turn to be selfless and be there!
      Our carer supporter who works with old people also, said that when the old folk slip into delirium as dad has, the only thing that can bring them back is people spending lots of quality time with them. Apparently, most people don’t get that attention and they fade away. Dad has a large family moving heaven and earth to make sure he’s not alone at all. So we are hopeful he can get a few more years before we really have to say goodbye. Thanks for the hugs, babe. Keep rockin’ and thanks for the lovely feedback! 🙂

      Like

      • Jenny Hansen says:

        You are welcome. And a schedule helps so everyone just does a 2-4 hour shift. The stimulation and the love will help him. And also help you not get too overwhelmed. Create a phone tree so you guys can all be in touch quickly. Like send a text to everyone now so you have it in your phone and can just keep “replying to all.” Good luck – it is a very precious time.

        Liked by 1 person

      • yvettecarol says:

        Yes, the shifts are draining. It really works to keep everyone rotating and taking a turn. Thanks for the phone tree idea, too, Jenny!

        Liked by 1 person

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